There is swirling energy surrounding the music we are being exposed to this week. With sparse pandemic inspired lo-fi efforts co-mingling with euphoric “let the sunshine in” party anthems, the musicians that we love are delivering their music to our ears in the most creative of ways.
New Zealand’s own and appropriately named Kiwi Jr. is out with a new video in support of their highly approachable new record Cooler Returns.
Rock is the new Roll favorite Imelda May is out with a seductive single with “Just One Kiss” featuring Noel Gallagher and Ronnie Wood.
And, completely out of left field, we don’t remember asking for it, and not really sure if we like it, a new version of the iconic “American Pie” has been dropped on our ear-step. This time out the vocal Country group Home Free teams up with Don McClean to take us to the levy. This cover does stand ears and shoulders above what we got from Madonna, but the jury is still out on this one. At least for us, anyway.
Here are five new records to wrap your ears around this week.
Weezer – OK Human
There is a certain supremely pleasing Joie-de-vie that Weezer brings to everything that they do, and despite the volume of material they release there is almost never a dud in the yearly package of fireworks they deliver. Largely held as a secret until just last week, OK Human is a soaring record that is a welcome and sharp contrast to the sparse lo-fi Bedroom Pop that has been, mostly by necessity, the norm for most post-pandemic releases.
Written mostly on the keyboard instead of the guitar, the large orchestra seems to take the place of the standard four-piece delivery of the songs quite effectively mostly due to the subtle production and the delicate placement of the strings on these tunes that never seem to stray from the core Weezer vibe we all know and love.
Baio – Dead Hand Control
Three records in, Vampire Weekend’s Chris Baio certainly seems to have hit his stride with his latest Synth-Pop effort, Dead Hand Control. With the tracks seemingly flowing seamlessly into one another, the groove takes on the atmosphere of a dance floor that could be could set in the ’80s in places and the present-day in others.
Mixed in with the epic 7 minutes or greater shoe-gaze worthy tracks the likes of “Caisse Noire,” and the closer “O.M.W.” that features fellow vampire Ezra Koenig, are shorter more concise contemplations referencing the end of times, a theme that seems to be prevalent throughout the record. This one will wash over you and fully envelop all of your senses.
Steven Wilson – The Future Bites
Much to the dismay of his hard-core Progressive Rock fan-base, and to the immense pleasure of the rest of us, with his new record, The Future Bites, Steven Wilson, the reigning king of Progressive Rock, is exploring his inner Pop and Electronica sides. “12 Things I forgot” is an epic pop song, and things can’t be any less prog than an appearance from Elton John on the highly addictive “Personal Shopper,” a song that might have fit in quite nicely on an early Moody Blues record. If it takes synthesizing a long ambient drone down to bite-size nugget size morsels in order for us to savor the elegance and truly experience the genius of Steven Wilson, then color us in.
Goat Girl – On All Fours
Signed to their label, Rough Trade, when they were teenagers, the members of Goat Girl are now firmly developed and cynical along with the rest of us. Most of the lyrical content embodied in each of the songs on their new record touches on angst, social injustice, or both. Returning after a three-year absence while they honed their craft following their debut record, this time out they tackle gentrification, homelessness, anxiety, and depression on a bed of Synth-Pop energy into a batch of songs that demand a listen.
Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul – Macca To Mecca!
Sure the original cavern club is no longer there having been torn down, paved over, and made into a parking lot, but here we get the next best thing with Little Steven and his band delivering a scorching set of vintage Rock and Roll songs live from the new Cavern Cavern, a club that has been faithfully restored into a pretty much exact replica of the original iconic venue that made The Beatles famous.
Cheating just a bit here, the opener “I Saw Here Standing There” was actually recorded at The Roundhouse in London, not the revamped Cavern Club, but all can be forgiven since Sir Paul himself makes an appearance on the song. The remainder of the record bristles with energy as Little Steven and his band use every inch of the cramped stage to deliver a lovingly vibrant set of songs that include “Some Other Guy,” “Soldier of Love,” “All You Need is Love” and “Slow Down,” all songs the Beatles would have likely played at the club back in the day.